Atlantic Highlands, NJ…When the New York Racing Association (NYRA) looked to upgrade and re-brand its on-air racing and simulcast presentation, it turned to Shamrock Communications. NYRA operates three of the most popular racetracks in the nation, including Belmont Park, home to the Triple Crown’s Belmont Stakes, and the pre-eminent summer meet at Saratoga Racetrack in Saratoga Springs, NY. NYRA’s televised simulcast signal accounts for a significant share of the national wagering pool, making it’s broadcast operation a high profile and crucial part of it’s racing presentation. Previously, NYRA outsourced its’ video transmission and production needs and in 2007 they decided to update the technology and bring it in house. With back to back racing schedules at the three tracks, a highly mobile system was needed to handle the coverage. They also wanted a system that was up-to-date with regards to digital technology and would be HD ready, and they needed someone with the appropriate background who would be capable of overseeing and leading the entire project. With the help and guidance of Pat Scanlon, owner of Shamrock Communications, NYRA was able to launch two new mobile trucks in July, 2008. Says Handel, “we are all very excited about the new trucks and just delighted with the job that Pat and his company did for us.”
NYRA started talking about this project back in the late Fall of 2007. While trying to determine who to approach about handling it, Hal Handel, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with NYRA and Charles Hayward, NYRA President, realized they had both previously worked with Pat Scanlon, owner of Shamrock Communications, and thought he would be a perfect fit for the job. Scanlon, an award winning broadcast management specialist with over 30 years of television experience on both sides of the camera, is well known in the tri-state area for his innovation and balanced, logical
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approach to projects. His company, based in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, is a full service media company producing corporate communications, sales presentations, broadcast and cable commercials and programming, website design, podcasts and more. Shamrock’s team of experienced professionals serve a variety of clients including the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants Football, The Daily Racing Form, Taylor PR, and Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation.
Handel approached Scanlon to discuss their needs and hired him as the project consultant. Scanlon and his company were responsible for every aspect of the process, guiding the transition of NYRA from an old analog system to a brand new HD ready system. He sourced all of the companies and materials needed, and was responsible for project management as the trucks were designed, configured and adapted for the NYRA. Once the trucks were built, Pat and his company also provided on-site training to the staff at NYRA who is operating the equipment. Handel says, “The project progressed very smoothly and we had complete confidence in the way it was handled by Pat and his company from start to finish.”
Two mobile TV trucks were designed – digital and HD ready, installed with a server system and a non-linear editing capability. The A Unit truck is used mainly for production and the B unit contains the main servers for storage and replay, the non-linear editing system used for creating features, commercials and production elements, and also houses satellite transmission and encryption equipment. Additionally, robotic HD cameras were included to capture additional views of the live racing without additional manpower, a radio frequency mobile camera was added for location shooting all over the massive racetracks, providing production flexibility and enhanced coverage options such as in the paddock and at a variety of starting gate positions. On-screen graphics were completely overhauled for an updated, network quality look, with state of the art graphics machines capable of 3D animation to provide a better quality and quantity of information about each race to simulcast viewers in the hopes of increasing the number of bets placed.
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By July 2008, both trucks were built and deployed. According to Handel, improved equipment and increased production efficiencies have resulted in lower personnel costs for the NYRA, and they feel they now offer a much-improved video product. Says Handel, “the improvement in our video product was of vital importance given the amount of wagering that is done off site, from either homes or simulcast venues.” Pat and his company will continue to provide troubleshooting, oversight and quality control through the end of 2008. Says Scanlon, “It’s been a pleasure working with Hal, Charlie and the NYRA organization on developing a network quality digital/HD presentation for NYRA. This transition was especially challenging because the facility had to be mobile, and then integrated into three different racetracks. Our HD and remote television production experience proved beneficial in creating a digital television facility and bringing the latest graphic, server and video technologies to horse racing.” Shamrock looks forward to the opportunity to roll out the mobile truck concept to other racing associations across the county with similar results.